ANDERSON — Spring is finally in full bloom, but the sudden onslaught of pollen can create a nasty allergy season for some.
“With the rapid warmup of the weather, we are seeing a more sudden change, and for some people, that is bringing on more allergy symptoms,” said Dr. Charlie Williams, a family practice physician at Community Hospital Anderson. “But they all seem bad, though, don’t they?”
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the number of people with allergies has steadily increased since the 1980’s across all ages, sex and racial groups. Today, one in every five American suffers from an allergy whether it is an indoor, outdoor, food, drug, latex, insect, skin or eye allergen.
Most allergies are reported as a chronic condition in children according to the AAFA, limiting activities for more than 40 percent of them. In adults, hay fever is the fifth leading chronic disease resulting in about 4 million lost workdays each year.
And the overall cost of allergies is estimated at almost $14.5 billion for doctor visits, medications, and lost wages.
Dr. Paul Warrick, who specializes in ear, nose and throat medicine at St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, said seasonal allergies are a response by the immune system to allergens that manifest into itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, ear pressure, postnasal drip, cough or hoarseness.
He said pollen from trees, weeds and grass and other allergens such as mold spores, animal dander and dust mites are treated as foreign by the body triggering a person’s immune system to react by releasing histamine causing an inflammatory response such as a runny nose.
“Some people mount a more vigorous response to one allergen or another than other patients, and the amount of allergen exposure can also vary, leading to a wide variation in the degree of response by each patient,” Warrick said.